Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Killer Whale’s (Orcinus orca) Response to Visual Media


Environmental enrichment is critical for maintaining cognitive welfare for animals in human care but is subject to individual preferences.  The interest in a video-based enrichment was assessed for a single killer whale ( Orcinus orca ) in human care.  The adult female was presented 20 video recordings featuring cetaceans, elephants, or humans with each video presented in two conditions: (1) with sound and (2) without sound.  Four additional presentations in which the television displayed a blank screen served as controls.  All sessions were videotaped and coded for time spent viewing the recordings, behavioral responses, and visual laterality.  The killer whale spent significantly more time at the television when programs were on screen compared to when the television was present but blank.  She was more likely to watch videos accompanied by sound than those presented without sound. Videos were more likely to be viewed monocularly rather than binocularly, with a right eye preference when viewing the videos the first time they were presented.  The highest rates of behavioral responses occurred during videos of cetaceans.  These results demonstrate that one killer whale responded to video recordings of different stimuli, suggesting that video recordings may be used as a form of enrichment for cetaceans and that not all video content and formats are equally interesting.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View